Hinode has sent back startling images of the Sun’s outer limb. Where astronomers expected to see a calm region called the chromosphere, they saw a seething mass of swaying spikes […].
“These structures are 8000 kilometres long and some extend twice that high,” says SOT science team member Alan Title from Lockheed Martin Advance Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, US. “Their speed is such that if you sat on the end of one, which I don’t recommend, you could travel from Washington, DC, to San Francisco in about four minutes. These things are really moving.”
Another surprise sighting is that of giant magnetic field loops crashing down onto the Sun’s surface as if they were collapsing from exhaustion, a finding that Golub describes as “impossible”. Previously, scientists thought they should emerge from the Sun and continue blowing out into space.
“Almost every day, we look at the data and we say – what the heck was that?” says Golub, a member of the XRT science team.
See the QuickTime video.